Study Guide

The Merry Wives of Windsor Act 4, Scene 5

By William Shakespeare

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Act 4, Scene 5

Read the full text of The Merry Wives of Windsor Act 4 Scene 5 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • Simple shows up at the Garter Inn looking to deliver a message to Falstaff from his master, Slender.
  • The Host tries to send him up to Falstaff's room but Simple's afraid to go up because he thinks Falstaff is up there getting busy with "the old woman of Brentford."
  • It turns out that Simple and Slender want to talk to "the old woman" because she's supposedly a witch with secret powers and knowledge.
  • So, what does Slender want to know? The winning lotto numbers? The secret to the universe?
  • Nope. He wants to know if Nim stole his gold chain and whether or not the guy still has it.
  • Falstaff is all, "Oh yeah, I talked to the old woman about that and she said that, yep, Nim definitely has it." Also, Slender is totally going to end up marrying Anne Page.
  • Simple runs back to his master with the good news just as Bardolph runs in covered in mud.
  • Bardolph's all "Whoa! Some German thieves just ran off with the horses that belong to the Host!"
  • Then Evans runs in and is all, "Hey, did you guys hear about the three Germans who have been stealing from hosts all over the English countryside?"
  • Caius comes in right on cue and tells the Host that there's no Duke of Germany coming to town, and someone has swindled the Host out of a few horses.
  • Punk'd! Looks like Caius and Evans got their revenge on the Host.
  • Naturally, the Host runs off to try to get his horses back.
  • Falstaff is left alone on stage, but not for long: just as Falstaff complains to us that he's also been punk'd, just like the Host, Mistress Quickly rushes in with a message from the merry wives.
  • At first, Falstaff's not interested, but Mistress Quickly fibs to him that Mistress Ford has suffered as much, if not more, than he has in all of this. Not only has she been denied Falstaff's company, but her husband beat her pretty soundly.
  • Falstaff points out that he's been beaten, too, and he had to dress up like an old witch and risk being seen that way.
  • Finally, Mistress Quickly convinces Falstaff to talk with her in private—in his chamber—so she can really explain everything. She whips out a letter from the merry wives, promising Falstaff that its contents will make him very happy.
  • Falstaff bites, and up they go to his chamber. 

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